Throughout the course of our years, we all experience a loss at some point in our lives. In fact, statistics show that 1 in 5 children will experience the death of someone close to them before 18 years of age. Feelings of grief and loss are not always associated with death, however, but commonly surface after a loss of some kind – whether it is the loss of a loved one, a severed relationship, a pregnancy, a pet, or a job.
When a person loses something or someone valuable to them, feelings of grief can be overbearing. Grief can leave a person feeling sad, hopeless, isolated, irritable, and numb by affecting them mentally, emotionally, and physically. It’s important to understand that healing from grief is a process and everyone copes with this emotion differently.
Many people don’t know what to say or do when a person is grieving, but be sure to have patience with the individual (including yourself) throughout the entire process.
Grief is the emotional response to any type of loss. Perhaps of a loved one due to death or divorce, but also the loss of a job, a pet, financial stability, or safety after trauma. Feelings of grief can be overwhelming, and it can be hard to know how to manage and overcome these emotions. It is important to have patience with yourself and others during this process as it is a healthy part of healing. If you are having trouble coping on your own, or know of someone who could use extra support, a therapist can assist.
There is no orderly process of passing through stages of anger, denial and acceptance. Everyone experiences loss differently based on their personality, culture, and beliefs, among many other factors.
Common symptoms of grief include:
- Shock and disbelief: feeling numb about the event, having trouble believing it happened, denying it, or expecting to suddenly see the person you lost.
- Sadness: crying, or having feelings of emptiness, despair, yearning, or loneliness.
- Guilt: regret over things unsaid or undone, feeling responsible for the death or the event, or shame from feeling relieved by a person’s passing.
- Anger: blaming someone for injustice.
- Fear: feelings of anxiety, helplessness, and insecurity, or having panic attacks.
- Physical symptoms: fatigue, nausea, weight loss or gain, aches and pains, and insomnia.
Coping with Grief and Loss
An important part of healing is knowing that you are not alone. Seek support from your friends, family, or faith, or join a bereavement support group. Sharing your loss can make the grieving process easier. Remember to take care of yourself; to eat, sleep, and exercise even when you’re too stressed or fatigued to do so. A healthy alternative is to seek the help of a professional therapist. A therapist can help you work through your intense emotions in a safe environment.
An alternative treatment method includes psychotherapy. Through psychotherapy, a patient may:
- Improve coping skills
- Reduce feelings of blame and guilt
- Explore and process emotions
Consider seeking professional support if feelings of grief do not ease over time.